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Rock Creek Elementary

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Rock Creek Garden

Rock Creek Garden Summary

Rock Creek Garden Summary

Rock Creek Garden Summary
The mission of the Rock Creek Garden is to maintain an onsite vegetable garden where students learn the basics of growing food, learn and apply science principles thru garden lessons, learn to be stewards of the natural world, and increase their fruits and vegetable consumption.
The Rock Creek Garden is a special resource that was installed over 30 years ago with grant funds and volunteer labor.
The garden is over half an acre in size and includes 18 raised beds, 9-3x20 in-ground rows, 20 fruits trees, a California native plants area, an herb garden, pollinator/flower beds, and a composting area. The garden has a 400 sq ft structure that serves as a green house, workspace, and storage. There is a large, shaded area that consists of 3 picnic tables for student lessons and activities. The garden is maintained year-round.
 
Over the past 10 years the Rock Creek Garden has ongoing been a resource for the school, students, families, and the community. The garden operates almost entirely on outside grant funds, volunteer labor and in-kind donations. In collaboration with CalFresh Healthy Living University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), UCCE Master Gardeners, community members, staff, and parent volunteers, the garden has become a place of learning, exploration, and bounty. Throughout a typical school year:
 
  • Students, TK-3rd grades, attend monthly garden lessons.
  • Students in the school wellness club participate in garden activities weekly, before and after school.
  • Students take an active part in planting and harvesting.
    • Annually over 200-300 lbs. of produce harvested from the garden is used in classroom tastings, offered to students on           the cafeteria salad bar, and distributed to families and school staff.
  • UCCE Master Gardeners provide a free annual pruning workshop open to the school and the community.
 
Currently, garden lessons are provided to Rock Creek school by Calfresh Healthy Living, UCCE garden educators. Educators use and provide approved curriculum covering nutrition, physical activity, and gardening topics. The educators coordinate with teachers and school staff whenever possible to support classroom lessons and reinforce the concepts of nutrition, making healthy food choices, and the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Garden lessons and activities are specifically beneficial to economically disadvantaged students who come from widely diverse backgrounds. These students are not always accustomed to growing and/or eating fresh produce. They are more likely to suffer from health implications of a poor diet such as obesity, diabetes, and stress around food insecurity. The Rock Creek Garden is a very positive space where children can learn, explore, and develop a healthy relationship with food.
 
New opportunities available through USDA are focused on providing resources to farm-to-school programs like the Rock Creek Garden. These new resources include materials (and importantly) funding for the following farm-to-school connections:
 
  1. Garden to Cafeteria – protocols & food safety
  2. Garden to Cafeteria – selling school garden produce to the cafeteria
  3. Garden staffing & coordination
  4. Curriculum tie-ins between garden, cafeteria & classroom
 
 
The Rock Creek Garden is in a unique position to take advantage of new opportunities to expand its already
robust and established farm-to-school activities.